Smart Creatives – The Team You Need To Succeed

February 16, 2016

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I’m currently reading the book How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. Despite the fact that I have not read the entire book yet, I’m fascinated by the concept of “Smart Creatives” introduced by Eric and jonathan in the book and described as one of the foundational elements that makes Google who they are. The book contains a detailed description of what a smart creative is and why we (I consider myself one) are the future of the 21st Century Workforce.

I tried to find a consolidated list of characteristics of a Smart Creative but everything points back to the book but not a simple list. so I decided to take action and build one.

I will still recommend you to read the entire book. The Smart Creative is a fantastic read in the introduction section, but not the only one. If you would like to know about Smart Creatives only, you can check a sample of the book in the book’s website. With that said, I extracted and listed the Smart Creative characteristics in a list format. Keep it as a source of knowledge when you are in a hiring process for two things: To identify a smart creative when you see it and to assess your current culture if it is attractive for smart creatives.

Please note that the content I’m about to list below is the exact content of the Book Sample. No content has been updated. I’ve only separated the skills and attributes of smart creatives into a list. I’m not claiming any intellectual property of the content. Full credit is associated with Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. Enjoy

From the introduction of How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg:

The “Smart Creative”

When we contrast the traditional knowledge worker with the engineers and other talented people who have surrounded us at Google over the past decade+, we see that our Google peers represent a quite different type of employee:

They are a new kind of animal, a type we call a “smart creative,” They are the key to achieving success in the Internet Century. The primary objective of any business today must be to increase the speed of the product development process and the quality of its output. Since the industrial revolution, operating processes have been biased toward lowering risk and avoiding mistakes. These processes, and the overall management approach from which they were derived, result in environments that stifle smart creatives. Now, though, the defining characteristic of today’s successful companies is the ability to continually deliver great products. And the only way to do that is to attract smart creatives and create an environment where they can succeed at scale.

And who, exactly, is this smart creative?

Those are the fundamentals

This is why they can have such an impact. It is also why they are uniquely difficult to manage, especially under old models, because no matter how hard you try, you can’t tell people like that how to think. If you can’t tell someone how to think, then you have to learn to manage the environment where they think. And make it a place where they want to come every day.

Snapchat: The App for The Consultant of The Future

February 9, 2016

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If you are in the consulting business and you are interested in getting the attention of current and prospect clients, Snapchat is your tool.

In this article I will discuss some of the great features offered by Snapchat and how they can be used by consultants. But before even getting into that, let me answer the most important question of all: Why Snapchat?

In the social media discussion, typically the conversation revolves around three main platforms: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Other platforms worth mentioning include: Youtube, Tumblr (blogging in general), Vine, Meerkat, just to name a few). Snapchat was released around 4 years ago. However, it has emerged as the new contender since the last year. All these tools are going after the most important, and scarce, element you can give them: Your Attention. In this day and age, getting 30 seconds of your attention, considering the overwhelming amount of information out there, is gold.

Snapchat initial release was limited in features and functionality. It was around this time that I tested the tool for a bit and then completely left it out of my world. It was thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the smartest people on the planet regarding social media and attention, that started talking about the evolution of Snapchat. I got really curious. I dusted off the little ghost with the yellow background and gave it a second chance. I was impressed. Snapchat evolved into a more serious tool that offers you a very clever set of features including:

  1. A personal space that in fact provides a more secure and safe experience than the other social media platforms
  2. Snaps or Stories are created in real time and they all expire after 24-hours
  3. Full screen video messaging
  4. Ability to interact one-to-one or one-to-many (as you preferred)

In its infancy, Snapchat was a platform for teenagers (ages 13–17) and was considered by many experts as the last place on earth to promote content or get noticed. However, this demographic has changed and continues changing rapidly. According to Snapchat website, the current demographic has extended from 13–17 to 13–34. Wow! that is impressive. In fact, it is showing similar patterns seen on Facebook and Instagram but at a faster rate. Currently 60% of smartphone users in the U.S. are using Snapchat. Now that is a population that you can’t have the luxury to ignore.

I have been a keen social media platform user in the past. Having said that, I’ve never had a chance to get the full benefit of being early in a social media platform. What I heard from Gary Vaynerchuk and other experts are the same patterns that I’ve heard before for Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before their exponential growth. I was not willing to let the opportunity pass, so I just immersed myself in the tool.

In Summary, I now see the value of Snapchat and its potential. I think is time for you and me to build a presence in the platform. The timing is perfect so I (and so can you) can get into this before the marketers do, which is a nice way to say that marketer will overload the tool with content (although the marketing platform for Snapchat is very slick, it is called 3V). There are many industries that will be disrupted by this tool and I strongly believe that the consulting space, or the professional services industry as a whole, can benefit from this platform.

Here are the reasons why?

  1. Provides users with feeling of a one-to-one experience. This platform can help you work with your clients up close and personal. Both of you in their own private little attention box called smartphone
  2. The content is more valuable here than in any other platform for a single reason: it expires. That for me is the most important feature of all. Your audience need to pay attention to what you are saying, because if they are too early, or too late, they will miss it. I believe this gives people in consulting the ability to share their key content with little risk of IP Infrigment. It is not like a blog that will keep your post for eternity (available at their fingertips thanks to Google search). Besides you are talking only to the people that wants to listen to you only. Its not a broadcast
  3. Content is time-limited. This means no more sugar coating or BS. You have to say what you need to say and you only have 15 seconds. This makes everyone focus on quality content than quantity. You can use multiple Snaps for sure, but you are still wired to share high quality content before the clock runs out
  4. Snapcodes (like QR codes for Snapchat) provides the ability to connect with people taking away the struggle of usernames and other types of IDs. Give it a try, just take a picture or download the headline picture in this article and see how fast you can add me
  5. It allows the audience the have a close and personal relationship with you. There are many ways that you can hire or ask someone to post content in your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (this one is a bit tougher). On Snapchat there is no chance. You have to produce real time on your smartphone and that is it. There might be some opportunities to outsource it but I believe the audience will easily find out.

Imagine the possibilities for you Consultant, Coach or Speaker to engage to your audience in a way that was not possible a few years ago. You now have the ability to produce content that can connect with people on a direct level. You are not only grabbing your audience attention. You are grabbing their full attention by giving them a 15-second, full screen message via video or an image. Think about it.

I strongly believe that consulting is at the verge of a major disruptions. Snapchat and other Internet platforms are the foundational infrastructure that will allow us (consultants) a new way to provide our services. Clients are expecting a transparent, simple and human consulting service. I believe we are getting really close to have all the elements to disrupt the industry.

To give you guys a more in-depth analysis of my prediction. I’m going to provide free technology consulting services over Snapchat. I’ll select a topic every day and Snap about it. As a bonus, you will also get Snaps and Stories from my daily routines, habits, personal and professional journeys.

Help me run this experiment. You just need to add me to your Snapchat, ask something that you would like to know about technology or related to the topic of the day. I guarantee you a personalized and content rich response.

You can use the Snapcode at the Top of the article or the one below. See you on Snapchat!

Social Power vs. Personal Power

February 3, 2016

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Each one of us needs power to feel better, perform better and be better. We all have a very complex relationship with power. Before we get into that debate, lets just hold our definition of power for a second and just discuss the two types of power described by Amy Cuddy in her book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. Amy describes the two types of power as social and personal.

Social Power is typically the type of power that you find outside with other people. This can come in the form of hierarchy, influence, and many other forms. There are two issues with social power: There are limited amounts of it available but second and most importantly, you get this power at the expense of others, most of the time at diminishing others.

Personal Power, in contrast, is the type of power that comes from within. It is based on your values, mindset, skills, attributes, spirit. It is basically endless. And that is the beauty of it. You can access this power source at any given time and use as much as you want or need. There are no limit or restriction for this one.

As I was reading this chapter, I couldn’t contain myself to stop and reflect about this. There have been so many times that I’ve been trying to access the wrong type of power and by trying to do so I have exhausted myself (due to the low amount available) and also hurt others in the process of getting it. It really hit me how we are constantly playing this social power game. We end up hurting great human beings, people we love and care about. All just for a couple of drops of social power. This can also be an unintentional action. I wonder how many times have I obtained social power without thinking of who did I hurt or diminished. Yeez, this is not cool.

Amy also mentioned another concept that makes sense: If we focus our energy in acquiring personal power, you will acquire social power as a by-product. And you can get it in a harmless way to you and others. It is not by diminishing others, it is given by others. Powerful stuff cooking in here.

The source content of this analysis comes from Chapter 5 of the book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

My Journey into Effective Reading — Tips and Techniques to improve your Reader Self

January 28, 2016

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Intro: My Love for Reading

Reading has been part of my life since I was a little kid. I can still remember one of my first books, a children’s version of Star Wars: A New Hope. I honestly don’t know who gave it to me, but it was a trip of a life time. I have to admit that I read the book before watching the movie, and that feeling stayed with me until today. And by feeling I mean two things: the love to read and the habit of always reading the book first before watching the movie. Two interesting facts about the latter feeling, I’ve broke the rule more than one time but I tried to live it as much as I can. Second fact, and I know some of you are going to kill me for this, I haven’t seen any of the Lord of The Rings movies, until I finish all the books. I know, I know. I’m missing a masterpiece. However, I would like to honor Tolkien’s writings. I just feel I have to.

Anyways, back to reading.

The Internet: the information fire hose

Reading came to me easy in middle school and high school. I considered myself a book worm and felt good about it. I was in a happy place borrowing and buying books like an animal. I felt that I was in total control of my information intake and I was the Jedi master of it, until the second biggest event in my reading life happened: the Internet.

Holly Shit! I got the same feeling as when you get inside a cold pure waterfall: a great deal of excitement but at the same time a complete shutdown of my senses. Literally, too much information everywhere (feels like a Buzz Light Gear meme should be here). But I still loved books and as you know the Internet has everything for everyone, so I found two amazing websites: Computer Literacy Books (CLBooks which later became FatBrain and later acquired by B&N) and the now behemoth Amazon.com. The insanity continued. Are you telling me I can ordered any book I want and these guys will deliver it to my front door. Awesome! I was living in Guatemala at the time and even with the international shipping charges, it was still a dream come true.

In university (Studying Computer Science), I was able, not only to order the books that were part of my syllabus, but even books from the same courses from the elite universities in the world. I focused my reading on completing my undergrad and post graduate. I learn tons.

Rock bottom: finding instant gratification

I started working one year before finishing my undergrad, and I think that is when the shit hit the fan. I was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information available, the one that I wanted to consume, and the one that I was capable of consuming. And that is when I started going downhill.

I started focusing more on the quantity of the content I was reading than the actual quality. As such, I reached out to one of the most dangerous drivers in our current society: INSTANT GRATIFICATION

I wanted to read faster, better, effectively and NOW. That was my biggest mistake. I starting buying books on how to read faster. Books that offer the alternative to read 10 books in a day or something as crazy as that. By the way, I know what you are thinking. What kind of idiot buys a book that he needs to read to fix his lack of reading problem? Yep, that was me. It is obvious now that I reflect on it but at the moment it felt like the right thing to do. Besides I kept telling myself that reading was my thing.

I tried to read books, took courses and gave my fare share of salary to the instant gratification market with the expected real results. No improvement at all. Not only I was not reading effectively, now I felt like an idiot after falling to all those “As seen in TV” look a like products.

In the meantime, the fire hose of information kept smashing my brain every minute. Emails, websites, blogs, books, ebooks, Free PDFs all over the Internet. I was going insane.

At this point, I was reading but consuming nothing. I bought books and read only one or two chapters, skim through email and magazines but nothing was sinking. I realized that I needed to change my attitude and habits towards reading and that whatever success I had in the past consuming information it will never take me to the future state that I wanted to be or will serve me better. So here is where the transformation starts.

Changing reading attitude and habits

I truly believe that we all have an attitude or a personality towards reading. Mine was that reading was meant to happen in the perfect setting/ambient, with a calm and open mind full of white space to fill. And my habits, they were just driven by instant gratification as I mentioned before.

One more thing about personality. For some reason I thought that I needed to know everything about anything. And if you add the fact that the information was available, I was procrastinating my reading.

My New Reader Self

I needed to change my approach on how to read effectively. And the good news is. I did. One caveat though. There is no easy way out of this. No instant gratification, no bullshit. I will share with you the things that have worked for me towards becoming a better reader and be more self-aware of my reader personality.

Tips and Techniques to Improve your Reader Self

Effective Reading Principles

1.-Read every single day!

Yeah! that’s it. However, you have to create a framework to make it work for you. This is not saying that you should read for the sake of reading. What is saying is that you should allocate a specific amount of time for reading purposes only. Believe it or not, this can be as simple as 5 minutes per day (measure it with your smartphone) or one page per day. The important thing is to kick start reading as an activity in your schedule.

As ridiculous as it sounds, commit to it. Put the 5 minute block in your schedule. It means 5 uninterrupted reading exclusive minutes. You can read a book or half a book a year, which is better than no books a year.

2.-Be present

This is the tricky part and it is directly correlated with principle number one. You need to be present and focused on one thing only: reading. That is the reason why committing to 5 minutes is not much of a crazy idea. Put your smartphone on Airplane mode, block all distractions and just read.

Tips and Techniques

Please keep the following in consideration while you read this:

Don’t think of these tips and techniques as the cookie cutter solution to your reading challenges. My invitation is to take a look a these tips and inject your own DNA to each one of them. My suggestion is to try one at a time. If it doesn’t work, change it bit by bit until it feels yours. That is the secret sauce (first tip). If it doesn’t work for more than a week, throw it out of your life and look for the next. If you already feel comfortable with one technique and also found another interesting, start combining them and do the same exercise

But enough preamble,let’s dig into it. I categorized the tips and techniques so you can easily get what you need more effectively.

Tips and Techniques to Prep for a Good Read

  1. Find Reading Time by Observing Your Day — If you think about it, you spend a lot of time commuting or just waiting for time to pass. Use those windows of time, as small as they seem, to read. I decided to give this a try and started using every single opportunity to read. I commit myself to the following rule: If I’m moving from point A to point B, I’ll listen to an AudioBook. Even if the route is short. I live very close to my office. It is approximately a 10–15 minute walk (total 20–30 minutes getting to the office and back home in the evening). Only that gives me between 360–600 minutes of time per month to listen to an audiobook or a podcast. Every month, I’m reading approximately 1 book and 3–5 20-ish minute podcasts. This is amazing. And If I have longer commutes due to work or an event, even better. Take into account flights, grocery shopping, etc. You can accumulate minutes if you really commit to it.
  2. Context for the Content — More than a tip, I think of this as a personal preference or style. I love movies. I really do. Before a movie that I want to see hits the theaters there is a promotion phase where actors, directors and producers talk about the movie. There are also trailers, teasers, etc. I love to watch all that content prior the movie. The more context I have, the more excited I feel. I don’t see it as a spoiler. I love context. The same thing happens with books. In this day and age, with the Internet and social media at its prime, you can get up close and personal with most authors in the business. You can find interviews, social media content, even trailers (Tim Ferriss did an awesome trailer for his 4-Hour Body book. Hollywood style). Another good example of this was the recent release of@BreneBrown book Rising Strong (highly recommended BTW). You could find her all over the Internet and also on Oprah Winfrey OWN channel (Super Soul Sundays, highly recommended as well). Other examples isGary Vaynerchuk. This guy is my idol. He is just fantastic. I get so much value out of him that I have purchased all his books and already pre-ordered the next one (Hey Gary Vaynerchuk, your guilty model is working like a charm over here, LOL). You get the point. Explore the book and the content even before you start reading. This will help you filter or get what you need in a short piece of content like a post or a tweet. May be that is all you need, a piece and not the whole book. Another example I can give you is that I’m exploring the book “The School of Greatness” by Lewis Howes. I’m still not convinced is the right book for me. So I listed to James Altucher podcast interviewing Lewis and other sources too. If I feel is a fit for me, I’ll buy it. If not, that is ok. Lewis is going to do fine anyways.

Tips and Techniques for the Reading Process

  1. Read only one book at a time — It is extremely tempting, for some of us, to read multiple books at the same time. Focus on one book at a time. Switching from on book to another requires additional brain effort to do the switch. Remember, it is not the reading only your brain will remember. Your brain will try to recreate the last setting when you were reading this book or any important highlights. It will drain your brain before you start reading
  2. Same content different inputs — We all have a preference of physical, digital, audio, etc. Choose your flavor. I have made a full transition to eBooks to the point that I prefer an eBook above all. However, I’ve been experimenting with Audiobooks as well (more detail tips on audiobooks next) and sometimes get back to Hardcovers. I realized that what I really care is about the content. So expand your possibilities. Explore Podcasts, Magazines, Blogs, Short articles, tweets, etc. You will be surprised that sometimes you are not interested in becoming a subject matter expert. You just need a quick piece of information and you can move to the next item
  3. Your Hand as a Pointer — I learned this tip from @jimkwik. When you are reading any content, use one of your index fingers as pointer to follow up your reading. It sounds simple but there is a trick. If you are right-handed, like me, use your left index and vice-versa. Why so specific? Typically only the hand that you are using to hold the book is focused on reading. This translates in only one side of your brain focused on the reading. By using your other hand as pointer, you are forcing both sides of your brain to focus on what you are reading. Practice will make you better at this. But believe me, it works.
  4. All Senses in Reading Mode — I learned this trick from @fghtmediocrityYouTube channel. Here is the ideal. Buy the book (physical or digital) and also the audiobook. As you read the book, play the audiobook at the same time but the audio should be between x1.5 to x2.5 normal speed. The fast-paced audio will drive your reading and will make you read more effectively. I have been able to read a full book in 3–5 days (and this is conservative as you can actually read a book in a day if you put the time) by reading approximately 45–60 minutes a day. Remember, the key is the audio speed. I have to admit that at the beginning the idea sounded ridiculous but it actually works.

Tips and Techniques for Post Read

  1. Free your mind to allow more information — Once you have read some content, your mind needs to digest it and made the relevant connections in your brain that apply to you. Once that happens, your content might transform into an idea, a concept or directly into action. It doesn’t matter which of the three happen, but you need to spit out your own version of the content. This open your brain to receive new and fresh content and repeat the cycle. I have made the mistake of holding information in my head for too long. I feel tired and felt that my head was going to explode. Also my reactive behavior was to talk about it to anyone I can. Even during personal events. This only made me the know-it-all jack ass in the room. I was not intending to be one, but the truth is, just because you find it interesting doesn’t mean everyone around you is interested at the same level or even at the same thing. My solution to this: Write about it. You don’t have to do a long format type of thing. It could be a post, tweet or a pic. It doesn’t matter. Most of the stuff that I write that comes out of my search probably will never make it to the public Internet. I’ll keep them in my journal ( I use Day One App, great BTW) and review them or just let them collect bytes of dust. The important think is that it serve the purpose of opening my mind to new stuff. In this information age, data has a expiry date. The same principle applies in your brain.
  2. Sleep, but not for the sake of it — I can’t not create a headline for this any simpler than just, Sleep. Having said that, we all have our own unique way of getting rest and regenerate our bodies. In my case, if I sleep between 6–7 hours per day, I’m good for the rest of the day. However, this metric tells me nothing about my sleep and regeneration process. You know the only time your brain is able to detox from all the biological waste in your head is through sleep? So I needed to know more about my sleep. Solution: @Jawbone UP24 wearable. This amazing piece of hardware is able to measure my levels of REM, light and deep sleep. In a nutshell, light sleep means nothing to your brain, deep sleep is more relevant to your body and REM is the key to your brain. REM sleep is the sleep level that allows you to dump data from the short-term to long-term and regenerate neurons and connect new paths. It is amazing how simple things like hydrating throughout the day can help with that, or what to eat and not to eat a few hours before going to sleep. Even if you had a huge steak for dinner, you know what is going to happen (close to zero REM sleep). but you can change your sleep patterns and next day activities to compensate. That is the fundamental difference between going to sleep for good and not for the sake of it. Bonus: Short naps a really helpful to increase your REM sleep (25–30 minutes).
  3. Go with your gut, get the book now and read it later — If I walked near an Indigo Store (Canada), a Barnes & Noble (US), or Amazon (Internet), my adrenaline starts pumping and I start scanning for all the books that my gut is telling me to get. I’m not suggesting to buy them all, but don’t forget about them. If you have the feeling that a book or an article will help you, keep it handy. My technique for this is to leverage the Amazon/iBooks Sample feature like an animal. Any book that appeals to me, I request a sample and keep it there. Some times they stay there for a long time and hit the bottom of the list and I will never see it again (I setup my eBook readers to order books and samples by last used) and you can delete them. But there is always a book that you will hear about in many different places and get many different signals from all over the place. That is my gut signal to buy it. Sometimes I buy them right away. The key point is to have a repository of the books that you are interested. There are other tools like Shellfari (Bought by Amazon), GoodReads, etc. I also recommended to check your public libraries. Here in Toronto, Canada, our public library system is fenomenal! I have access to Overdrive books, Digital Magazines, O’reilly Safari online books, and recently Lynda training courses. They are easy to access and they are “free” (you actually pay for this via your taxes but it is there for you). Leverage it.

One Last Thought…

Book Summaries — People ask me what are my thoughts about book summaries. My answer is very plain and simple:

A summary will never communicate the essence of the book and/or the author’s main message

Call me a purist, but I feel the same way about trailer movies or magazine covers. You learn enough but not all of it.

Book summaries can help you get away from conversations where you are the only person in the conversation who haven’t read the book and you are concern that people might think of you as an illiterate or ignorant. Personally, I don’t care about that. In fact, I use it as a conversation starter to nurture my network. If I haven’t ready the book, ask for reviews and points of view. Book summaries can also be helpful regarding my previous tip about “Context for Content” gathering more information about the book and the author.

So, here you have them. I hope this really adds value to your Reading Self in some way or the other. If you have any other tip or technique, please feel free to include it in the content.